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Trip Report Decrepit dame does Deutschland

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I just returned from a month-long trip to eastern Germany, with a side trip to Warsaw.

The German cities I visited were Berlin, Dresden, Wernigerode, Halle, Erfurt, and Bad Schandau. The main reasons I chose these cities were 1) to do some mop-up sightseeing in places I'd previously visited but had missed things I wanted to see. 2) to polish my German in towns where English isn't so prevalent.

I took Alaska Airlines from Spokane to Seattle, then Lufthansa non-stop to Frankfurt, then Air Berlin to Berlin. As I got off the Alaska flight in Seattle, an attendant took a look at me and asked if I had ordered a wheelchair. I hadn't, but I got to thinking that a wheelchair wasn't a bad idea for when I landed in Frankfurt, which always requires a lot of walking, and I knew I'd have trouble with all the walking plus steps I'd have to climb. So I ordered a wheelchair for Frankfurt.

Turns out that it was a bad idea after all.

I've flown into Frankfurt since the late 60's. It has always been an ordeal to navigate, but I hadn't been there since 2014, when it was bigger than ever, but not horrendous. Well, it seems to have grown a lot even since then. Now it is horrendous, gigantic, enormous, unbelievable, huuuuuge--made even worse by my unwise selection of Air Berlin as the carrier for Berlin.

When I got off the plane and asked for the wheelchair or cart, I and another woman were told where to wait--for 45 minutes--until a cart came and got us. And 45 minutes was about how long we waited. All in all I got 3 wheelchairs and one electric cart, with long waits between each one.

I had figured two hours between flights was long enough to get to Air Berlin, but with the interminable waits, it looked like we'd be cutting it pretty close. I didn't have a boarding pass for Air Berlin, but after the next to the last wheelchair pusher scolded me for not allowing more time, she called Air Berlin and ordered a boarding pass. I didn't think it would be politic to tell her that I would have had enough time if I hadn't had such long waits between wheelchairs.

By the time the final girl picked me up, I didn't think we'd make it to the plane on time, but this young lady was a sweetheart. She kept assuring me that we'd get there in time for my flight, which we did, but only because she got them to wait the bus for me.

While the bus was waiting, I had to go through security, and my stuff tested positive for EXPLOSIVE RESIDUE! So while the bus out to the plane, with all the other passengers, waited, security was testing every item in my purse and in my carry on bag for explosives. They opened my sunglasses case, they checked out my tiny bottle of dry-eye drops, they even had me turn on my kindle to show them that it wasn't a fiendish device. They checked every single thing that could possibly contain any suspicious material. It was maddening! Of course, I understood that they had to be thorough, but it was still stressful.

I was embarrassed when I finally got through security and made my way to the plane. I am afraid I did exaggerate my disability somewhat when I hobbled onto the stairs leading to the plane. I figured it would be better for the morale of the passengers to think I was in very bad shape. However, stairs are always hard for me, so I wasn't exaggerating very much, and it was raining, so I was a little nervous that I'd slip and fall on the tarmac.

Once I was actually on the bus, I regretted not giving my last wheelchair girl a nice tip for all her trouble. Another wheelchair pusher met me at Berlin Tegel, and I kept telling her that I didn't need the wheelchair for such a small airport, but she insisted that I stay in the chair.

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